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Fair Housing Center to File Discrimination Complaint Against Katrina Housing Websites

Posted on 23. Dec, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

On December 23, 2005, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), working with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Relman and Associates Law firm, will file administrative complaints against katrinahousing.org, katrinahome.com, dhronline.org and nolahousing.org. The complaint alleges that each of the web sites has published discriminatory housing advertisements stating clear preferences based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and/or familial status. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended in 1988, it is illegal to engage in discriminatory advertising based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability, and national origin.

The advertisements include phrases such as: “not racist, but white only,” “we do apologize but we are requesting only white or chinese families,” “should be white lady,” “we would prefer a middle class white family,” “to make things more understandable for our younger child we would like to house white children,” “There aren’t many black residents in my location, so a young white man may find it easier to adapt to our town,” “we live in redneck country here, especially in my neighborhood, and blacks are frowned on,” “must be honest and a Christian,” and “as a white couple, we would be looking for a white mother and baby.”

Corresponding letters to each of the web sites request that the sites remove all discriminatory advertisements, place a banner on the sites stating a policy of non-discrimination, use a content filter to prevent future discriminatory advertising, provide GNOFHAC with a list of addresses and telephone numbers of all
individuals who placed discriminatory advertisements, and reimburse GNOFHAC for its costs, frustration of its mission and its attorneys for their time.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “These advertisements are blatant and outright discriminatory. By posting these discriminatory statements on the World Wide Web, the web sites are perpetuating discrimination in America and across the world. Further, they are harming the very victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, that they purport to help. As a result, the sites must come into compliance by removing the advertisements and righting the effects of the discriminatory advertisements.”

12-23-05 Download the press release here

Judge Grants Restraining Order in Discrimination Lawsuit Against City of Denham Springs

Posted on 13. Dec, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

On December 12, 2005, Judge Tyson granted a temporary restraining order against the City of Denham Springs. The order restrains and enjoins the City of Denham Springs from seeking to stop Options Foundation, Inc. (Options) from continuing to operate its group home in the City. The Judge further set the case for trial on December 22, 2005.

The order is a result of a lawsuit filed on the same day by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), on behalf of Options, against the City of Denham Springs in Federal Court. The suit alleges that the City’s refusal to allow use of a property as a residence for individuals with mental illness violates the requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act and Americans with
Disabilities Act. The suit requests a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction and permanent injunction to prevent the City from preventing the continued use of a Denham Springs property as a group home and from evicting its residents. The suit further requests permanent enjoinment of discrimination by the City, against Options.

Options opened the group home after Hurricane Katrina in an attempt to assist a group of Hurricane evacuees who have mental illnesses and who were forced to evacuate their New Orleans group home. Options chose the property in question because it had previously been used as a halfway house until May of 2005 and would likely meet their goal to provide housing to individuals with disabilities in a community setting.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “This is but the first step in our push to insure fair housing choice for tenants at the Options group home. We are hopeful that this early victory is an indicator of things to come.”

12-13-05 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Announces Settlement of Sales Discrimination Complaint

Posted on 13. Dec, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

On Monday, December 13, 2005, an African American couple settled a housing discrimination lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The settlement provided plaintiffs monetary relief in the amount of $15,000.

The couple alleged in their complaint that they saw a home in Meraux, Louisiana listed for sale in the Times Picayune. The couple further alleged that when the wife inquired about the home for sale, she was told by one of the defendants that she could not buy the home because she is African American. The couple then contacted the Fair Housing Action Center, Inc. (FHAC) to file a complaint of
housing discrimination. FHAC investigated the complaint through a series of tests in which African American and white testers inquired about the home for sale. FHAC viewed the testing as clear evidence of race discrimination. Specifically, FHAC alleges that the white tester was encouraged to purchase the home, while the African American tester was told that she could not buy the home because she is African American.

After conducting its investigation, FHAC referred the complaint to cooperating attorney Tracie Jackson, who filed the lawsuit and helped negotiate the settlement agreement.

According to James Perry, FHAC’s Executive Director, “It has been nearly forty years since the passage of the Fair Housing Act, which explicitly forbids a housing provider, whether or not they’re in the business of selling homes, from making racially discriminatory statements and decisions when advertising. No one should ever be told that they’re not welcome in a home or a neighborhood because of their race.”

12-13-05
Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Files Federal Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against City of Denham Springs

Posted on 12. Dec, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Options Foundation, Inc. (Options), against the City of Denham Springs in Federal Court. The suit alleges that the City’s refusal to allow use of a property as a residence for individuals with mental illness violates the requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit requests a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction and permanent injunction to prevent the City from preventing the continued use of a Denham Springs property as a group home and from evicting its residents. The suit further requests permanent enjoinment of discrimination by the City, against Options.

Options opened the group home after Hurricane Katrina in an attempt to assist a group of Hurricane evacuees who have mental illnesses and who were forced to evacuate their New Orleans group home. Options chose the property in question because it had previously been used as a half-way house until May of 2005 and would likely meet their need to provide housing to individuals with disabilities in a community setting.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “Under the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities have a right to live in an integrated community. Municipalities must honor and respect that right. To the extent that Denham Springs is unwilling to do so, the Fair Housing Action Center, on behalf of Options Foundation, Inc., is prepared to push as hard as necessary to protect those rights.”

12-12-05 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Hosts Public Forum on Race and Rebuilding

Posted on 01. Dec, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), along with the African American Forum on Race and Regionalism, the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and the Structural Racism Caucus are hosting a public forum on the role of race in rebuilding New Orleans and other affected areas in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The forum, free and open to the public, will bring together local and national civil and human rights advocates, and local leaders to share ideas on strategies to rebuild that give people of color real choices about where to live and that provide real opportunities for healthy lives. The event will be held on Monday, December 5, 2005 at 6:00 p.m. at the GNOFHAC offices, 7868 Anselmo Lane in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Maya Wiley, Executive Director of CSI, comments, “Hurricane Katrina has made visible to the world the racial inequities afflicting New Orleans, Louisiana and America. Policies created these inequities and policies can end them. America has an incredible opportunity to change the face of tragedy into triumph for everyone. This forum is one step in the direction towards getting both the inequities and resulting policies on the table.”

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “We must be sure that national and local leaders working in the rebuilding process, are working not only on bricks and mortar projects, but plans and policies capable of correcting historical racial inequities. Hopefully, this forum will help to refocus leaders and cause them to keep race and poverty on the forefront as we rebuild”

12-1-05 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Files Discrimination Complaint Against Housing Authority of New Orleans

Posted on 16. Nov, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

On November 16, 2005, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed a housing discrimination complaint against the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO). The complaint, filed with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, accuses HANO of violating a 2003 enforcement agreement entered into between former St. Thomas Housing Development residents, the City of New Orleans, HANO, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the HOPE VI redevelopment of St. Thomas, now known as River Garden.

The current complaints allege that HANO has not provided qualified former St. Thomas residents a preference with respect to available public housing units at River Garden per the 2003 agreement. Upon return to New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina evacuation, former residents have been informed that there are no available public housing units at River Garden because those units have been reserved for HANO employees. Therefore, public housing residents have been unable to secure the units for which they qualified prior to the storm and are left homeless, as a result.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, affordable housing in New Orleans is more scarce than ever. As such, it is essential that HANO comply with 2003 enforcement agreement.”

11-16-05 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Opposes HB 88, Urges Amendment; Bill Might Erase Rental Housing for Evacuees

Posted on 10. Nov, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), opposes House Bill 88, and urges the bill be amended. The Bill has the potential to give landlords carte blanche to evict tenants and destroy or keep their belongings without due process. Tenants who have already been displaced from their homes and communities will also lose rights to their remaining personal property if the law is passed.

HB-88 proposes to allow landlords to assume that tenants have abandoned their property if rent is not current and landlords have not communicated with tenants; presume that tenants have abandoned all belongings inside their homes; allow landlords to dispose of or keep all tenants’ property; and allow landlords to terminate leases by simply placing notices on tenants’ doors. If the bill were passed, some tenants would have no recourse or opportunity to claim personal belongings.

By giving landlords near complete discretion to discard or remove tenants’ personal property, the bill would prevent and discourage evacuees from returning to New Orleans.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director comments, “While it is essential to provide fair and equitable means to deal with landlord tenant issues in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the proposals in HB-88 dispose of nearly all the rights afforded to renters. This is particularly unsettling when one considers that approximately 60% of residents in Orleans Parish rent their homes. HB-88 has
the potential to be the death-blow making thousands of evacuated renters homeless upon their return to New Orleans.”

Perry and New Orleans renters who could potentially lose their home and property are available for interviews.

11-10-05 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Presents Housing Accessibility Training

Posted on 08. Nov, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), in partnership with the LSU Human Development Center (LSU-HDC), presents a free one-day Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST training program. The event, slated for November 18, 2005 will take place at the Louisiana Municipal Building (700 North 10th St.) in Baton Rouge from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The goal is to make sure that architects, homebuilders, designers, developers and housing advocates are up to speed with laws affecting people with disabilities. The information is essential as Louisianans rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Those interested in attending should register at www.fairhousingfirst.org.

The Baton Rouge training program will focus on three modules: Disability Rights Laws, Common Violations, and the Fair Housing Act Accessibility Requirements Overview. Additionally, presenters will discuss the application of accessibility law to renovations of historic buildings. Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides training and technical guidance to homebuilders, developers, architects and designers on compliance with the accessible design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The campaign includes training for the housing industry, a Web site, www.fairhousingfirst.org, a hotline telephone number
(1-888-FH1RST1 or TTY/V 1-888-341-7781), and a technical guidance resource center.

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director remarks, “As we rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we are presented with an incredible opportunity to provide more housing opportunities than ever for people with mobility impairments. This training is an integral step in providing fair housing choice for all citizens of Louisiana.”

11-8-05 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Set to Open in Baton Rouge

Posted on 11. Oct, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

As a result of a generous donation by Ameriquest Mortgage, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) will temporarily relocate its office to 7868 Anselmo Lane in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The move comes on the heels of complaints and reports of discrimination against New Orleans evacuees seeking housing.

Victims of discrimination should contact GNOFHAC to file complaints at 877-445-2100 or 504-596-2100. Due to staffing constraints, most complainants will be force to leave messages. Staff will return calls as quickly a possible.

Ameriquest Mortgage, hearing reports of discrimination, donated the office space, rent-free, for a one-year period. James Anderson, Ameriquest vice president for community and government relations remarked, “We are proud to support the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center in continuing its important work during this challenging time in New Orleans.”

James Perry, GNOFHAC Executive Director remarks, “If there is ever a time for people to ignore the barriers of race, national origin, sex, familial status, religion and disability, it is now, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Housing providers must put aside their prejudices and welcome evacuees. Unfortunately, our office has received reports of landlords basing housing decisions on race, whether a family has children, and disability. Through this great donation from Ameriquest Mortgage and our supporters, we will be able to continue to ensure that housing opportunities are fair for all Louisiana home seekers.”

10-11-05 Download the press release here

Fair Housing Center Joins Jefferson Parish in Celebrating Fair Housing Month

Posted on 12. Apr, 2005 by in 2005 News, News

Jefferson Parish officials join the Fair Housing Action Center in celebrating fair housing month by proclaiming April, fair housing month. Jefferson Parish Council President, Aaron Broussard, and Councilman Bryan Lee will present the Proclamation to the Fair Housing Action Center, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Louisiana State University XXXXX. Each of the organizations plays a role in fighting housing discrimination in Jefferson Parish. The presentation will be made on Wednesday, April 13 at 9:30 a.m. at the Jefferson Parish West Bank
Council Chambers located on the 2nd floor of the Gretna Courthouse (200 Derbigny Street).

Fair Housing is celebrated in April because the Federal Fair Housing Act was passed on April 11, 1968, seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. President Lyndon B. Johnson urged congress to pass the Act in honor of King.

Fair Housing month will be further celebrated at FHAC’s 10th Annual Fair Housing month
Summit on April 28th at the Park Plaza hotel (formerly the Radisson), located at 1500 Canal Street in New Orleans from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

4-12-05 Download the press release here